My Week with Marilyn is as stated: a single week in the life of Monroe, but one that perfectly encapsulates her life. At 30 years old, just married a third time, she seduces the third assistant director, and moves on as if nothing ever happened.
There’s the screen Marilyn, the captivating, eye catching blonde with immeasurable appeal on screen. Then there’s the Marilyn that can’t find herself, downing pills and alcohol while rejecting those around her. This is a story of two people that turns into three; Monroe’s wavering mindset creates dual divergent personalities, and in reality, two different people.
Stuck between it all is Colin Clark (Eddie Redmayne), mystified that any of this is happening. He’s sheepish and shy, yet hardly anyone on the planet can blame him for going along. Marilyn seems to trust him, sensing an honesty through his actions, or it’s the pills talking. Only one person may ever know.
The film is split between Colin and Monroe (Michelle Williams), the former caught between jealous stage hands and a frustrated Sir Laurence Olivier. He only wants to make a film, Monroe too off kilter and unsure of herself to bring that to fruition.
Week with Marilyn gives Monroe a mystique, and drowns it just as quickly. Williams herself is able to capture some of that appeal, although it’s doubtful anyone will feature that unexplainable magnetism of the real Monroe. As difficult as it may be to step into a clone of one of the world’s most recognized icons, it’s even harder to bring that person to life, to a reality. That’s where Williams scores, under the influence and at peace during this fling.
Think of this as a block, an unknown, almost unnecessary chunk of Monroe’s life that through these events, becomes a central focal point of her eventual seep into a downward spiral. Given the time frame, these could be her final true days of happiness before the pressures became overbearing. She gets a glimpse of what her life could have been before she was shoved into a what it was decided it should be.
It’s a rarity that a film ends up being as all over the place as this one visually. Week with Marilyn has a consistent style, just not a consistent focus. The idea is to soften it up, play on Monroe’s allure and mystique. That, by default, will block much of the high-fidelity detail by design. The soft focus is enough to blot the majority of it out. Williams is often shot with a bright bloom to further enhance those qualities.
Typical digital intermediate tinkering will push life into the primaries during those frolicking, lakeside scenes, and dim those during dramatic swells. That happens here, although the intensity can change with a single edit. It’s quite bizarre in motion, to see the screen move from a pale, lightly dusted pastel to the flesh tones warming up into a more natural state with only a meager camera set up.
Black levels do the same, although it’s more damaging to the look and general HD appeal. During a scene with Redmayne and Emma Watson in the wardrobe department, the quality turns from crushing dominance to sickly, off-hue blues between edits. Things become impossible to predict, although overall, black levels fade with alarming regularity. Rarely is depth established or held.
Captured on film, the grain structure will barely make itself noticeable, this short of a single scene where it becomes a noisy bother. With all of the filters and slightly (intentional) off focus, Week looks captured digitally. Without the grain to hold it together, it certainly can appear that way. The encode itself doesn’t seem to play host to any of these troubles, just a budget restricted film.
The film opens with some intense vocals and great orchestration, breathing immediate life into an otherwise sedate DTS-HD mix. What that opening will prove is an imbalance between those few highs and general dialogue. Clearly, those brighter moments are meant to sizzle, leaving the rest to the wayside. There won’t be much harm in cranking this one up a notch or two -it’s not as John McClane pops in to shake things up- but it’s a notable fault nonetheless.
Week with Marilyn doesn’t have to bring the viewer in sonically. Williams handles that on her own, although a rush of people surrounding her on the street does create a sense of panic. The mob of fans quickly becomes out of control, swelling into the surrounds and the stereos for a well realized point of immersion.
Director Simon Curtis handles commentary duties, that accompanied by a making of (and true story retelling) The Untold Story of an American Icon. It has a stable, TV documentary feel mixed in with behind the scenes details.
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